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IFJ calls on government to take urgent action after four media groups robbed

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 10 July 2007 IFJ media release

IFJ Calls on Côte d'Ivoire Government to Take Urgent Actions after 4 Media Groups Robbed

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today urged the government of Côte d'Ivoire to take urgent actions to put an end to newsroom robberies after four media companies were raided in a period of two months by armed groups who stole office equipment and documents.

"We condemn these attacks, which are creating an environment of fear and panic in the press," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. "We call on the government to take urgent actions to put an end to these attacks, which seemed to be aimed at destabilising the new peace process in the country."

In the last two months, four media groups, including three close to the ruling party and one close to the opposition, were attacked. In all of these attacks the modus operandi remained the same: the burglars strike early in the morning between 1 and 4 a.m., bind the guards and sometimes beat them and then steal office equipment, money and documents.

At 2 a.m. on the morning of July 9, the media group La Refondation, publisher of the daily newspapers Notre Voie and Elite Actuelle, was the victim of a burglary.

Five days before, on July 5, the media group Nord-sud Communication, publisher of the daily newspaper Nord-Sud quotidien, was also attacked.

The week before, on June 28, armed individuals ransacked the media group Cyclone, publisher of the daily newspaper Le Temps and of the weekly newspaper Prestige.

The first attack in the latest wave of attacks was on May 5 when the media group Le Matin d'Abidjan, publisher of the daily newspaper Le Matin d'Abidjan, was robbed.

Last year, in September 2006, the media group Les éditions Appo, publisher of the daily newspapers Le Sport and Dialogues and Heat weekly magazine, was burglarized. Those responsible for the attack were never caught.

Media organisations and journalists in the Côte d'Ivoire have denounced the silence and lack of action by the government.

The IFJ is calling for the government to making catching those responsible for the robberies a top priority.

"There is more to this than simply loss of property," Baglo said. "These burglaries are creating a sense of unease in the journalism community and intimidating publishers and reporters alike."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries.

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